Category: <span>Business Building</span>

17 Terrific Management Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

Retirements, company restructuring, and growing businesses are launching new leaders and managers. Both new and experienced managers face modern-day management issues. Those include remote employees, flex-time workers, video and telephone meetings, different time zones, workforce diversity, and 24/7 access to work. Here are some quick tips to be an effective and supportive manager in today’s world.

1. Manage work. Develop people. Make these principles your watchwords.

2. Give people something to work toward, not just work on. Be concise about corporate and department goals, values, and metrics.

3. Listening is your most effective tool. Don’t assume you need to step in, solve a problem, or offer an opinion. After focused listening ask, “How can I help?” The answer will guide your response.

4. Personal friendships with direct reports are best kept outside the office. Perceived favoritism can lead to ill will from other associates.

5. A structured new-employee orientation is critical for success. To engage and enlighten the new hire: a personal welcome by a top leader, an assigned coordinator, a review of standard office protocols, job shadowing throughout the company, as well as specific job training.

6. Boost employee problem solving by asking these questions: “What do you think?” “What’s the benefit or downside to doing that?” “How would that work?”

7. Don’t send employees e-mail or text messages at night. It adds unnecessary stress and expectations. Create a draft and send it in the morning. Everyone needs down time.

8. When poor performers and substandard work are not addressed in an organization, it’s the top performers who leave.

9. Any more than six direct reports are too many. Rethink the reporting structure to create supervisors or lead people who will manage work, monitor results, and report progress or gaps.

10. If you think your age or gender is an obstacle in effectively doing your job, understand that it’s your baggage, not your employees. Get over it and be a great manager.

11. Remote workers have the same organizational responsibilities as on-site workers. Make certain technology provides reliable support. Keep communication open and frequent. Initiate two or three brief phone meetings a week. Include off-site workers in all staff meetings no matter how brief.

12. Use flip charts. Meetings dramatically improve, discussions move forward, and actions can be assigned when ideas are posted on paper charts (not dry erase boards). Paper is permanent and you can refer back.

13. When in the office, individual and upbeat morning greetings set the tone for the day. Don’t leave anyone out.

14. Formally assign backup staff for all jobs at all times, not just for vacation. This encourages teamwork, ensures work gets done, and clients are served.

15. Handle sensitive issues with care. Avoid e-mail, meet in person, and pay attention to body language. Have another manager present if appropriate.

16. Don’t believe what others tell you about your employees. Get proof. Observe.

17. Take the career development aspect of your role seriously. When you help others achieve their goals, they will help you achieve yours.


 

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales and service organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com. She’s a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

17 Terrific Telephone Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

The telephone remains the most effective communication means following face-to-face conversation. Through voice, we sense attitude, emotion, and interest. Here are some tips to help teach or remind us how to make the most of this tried and true communication tool.

  1. Never e-mail negative news. Pick up the phone and call.
  2. Utilize a frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers document to assure accuracy and consistency in responding to routine inquiries.
  3. Respect customers’ time by preparing for outgoing calls. Create a list of questions or issues to discuss. Anticipate their questions or objections to be ready to respond knowledgeably and quickly.
  4. Use “I” instead of “you” when requesting information. “I need this information” sounds better than “You need to give me this information.”
  5. Take ownership of the call. Customers do not like to be transferred. If you do need to transfer a call, introduce the caller to your colleague. Do not place callers in voice mail without their knowledge.
  6. Use phone conversations to build and personalize relationships. Inquire about the weather, family, vacations, or hobbies. Look to find common interests.
  7. Be warm and cheerful in energy, words, and tone. “I’m so glad you called!” “We really appreciate your business.
  8. Pick up the line quickly. The phone should ring no more than three times. If you are going to be away from your desk, program the phone to roll into voice mail or to an associate’s line.
  9. Don’t sound like a recorded message. I called a person recently who answered the phone and identified herself. I hesitated a minute and said, “Oh, you’re alive!” She laughed and said many people mistakenly think she’s her voice mail message. That’s not a good thing! Answer the phone with enthusiasm.
  10. Identify yourself confidently. If you’ve ever been greeted by someone who sounded as if they weren’t quite sure who they were, you know what I mean. Using first and last name is the most professional way to distinguish yourself.
  11. Eliminate distractions immediately. Don’t try to finish something on the computer or read a report while you’re on the telephone. Half listening is rude and can create misunderstandings and extra work.
  12. Outgoing voice mail messages need to be current. Callers want to hear an upbeat, informative, and brief message that expresses accountability. “This is Emily Huling. Today is __________. I’m in the office and will return your call shortly.” “This is Emily Huling. Today is ________. I’m away from the office and will (will not) be checking messages. I’ll return your call ________.” For immediate assistance, dial _______ to reach _________.” (Include coverage disclaimer as appropriate.)
  13. Personalize the call. “What can I do to help you, Sally?” Calling people by name shows you are listening and makes them feel important.
  14. Listen well. Take notes, repeat back what you’ve heard, ask questions, and summarize the conversation. Avoid confusion and errors with good listening skills.
  15. Never leave the phone off the hook. You have no control over what your caller may hear. Always put a call on hold when you need to step away.
  16. Let the caller end the conversation. A simple, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” allows the caller to close the call. Doing that prevents the caller from feeling dismissed.
  17. Thank them for their business. People who do business with you want to know you appreciate their patronage. Tell them.

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She is the author of Selling from the Inside, Great Service Sells, and Kick Your “But.” Visit www.sellingstrategies.com to learn how Emily’s programs and materials can benefit your organization.
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802
Mobile: 704-516-5114
www.sellingstrategies.com

17 Terrific Negotiating Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

We are continually negotiating. It may be a small issue – where to go for lunch. A larger concern – setting business goals and strategy. Or a matter with immense long-term impact – policy terms, coverage, and rates. Since most of us don’t have time to read the volumes written on negotiating skills, here are some pointers for productive and positive negotiating.

1. Know what you want as an outcome. Money, time, guarantees, additional services, upgraded product, etc. Whatever it is, it’s imperative to know your requirements and your negotiable points.
2. Do in-depth homework on the issues being negotiated. Be able to refer to facts, figures, history. Proof trumps hearsay. It’s hard to argue with solid evidence.
3. Be prepared. Have your list of facts and questions at the ready.
4. Find out as much as you can about the individual. Get a feel for what’s at stake for him or her.
5. Ask about the decision-making process. Who has the authority and how will the decision be made?
6. Look beyond the present. How will the outcome play out in the future? It may be a good move now, but what will the effect be in the future? If it’s a sacrifice now, the long-term payoff could be tremendous.
7. Use language of personal responsibility, not accusation. Say “I need” instead of “you need to.”
8. Seating arrangements. Sitting on opposite sides of the table indicates a more combative exchange. Sitting on the same side of the table or on adjoining sides signifies a more collaborative exchange.
9. Talk less, listen more. Let the other person talk about her position, while you really listen to what it being said.
10. If you are face-to-face, pay attention to the other person’s body language. Is it aligned with the words you’re hearing? Is nervousness apparent even though the words are persuasive?
11. Mind your own body language and expression. Have a pleasant expression, but don’t smile excessively. Avoid nodding your head. Show you’re paying attention with your eyes.
12. Learn when and how to appropriately interrupt. A simple, “I hear what you’re saying and I’d like to share some ideas” is an effective way to interrupt.
13. Consider the emotional impact to the other person.
14. Be open to their proposition. Put yourself in their shoes.
15. Help the other side sell it to their higher authority. “It sounds like we’re in agreement. How can I help you sell this to your boss?”
16. Continually summarize the conversation and confirm agreements. “So if I understand what you’re telling me….” Getting a periodic assessment of the idea exchange will help close the deal more easily.
17. Expect a positive outcome, both in the specifics of the agreement and the relationship.


 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She is the author of Selling from the Inside, Great Service Sells, and Kick Your “But.” Visit www.sellingstrategies.com to learn how Emily’s programs and materials can benefit your organization.

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802
Mobile: 704-516-5114
www.sellingstrategies.com

17 Terrific Networking Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC
Networking should play a big part in your overall personal development and career plan. Why?

  •  Networking demonstrates your commitment to your industry and your clients.
  •  Networking gives you the most exposure for the time spent.
  •  Networking sows the seeds for long-term friendship and business relationships.
  •  Networking exposes you to peers who have similar aspirations.
  •  Networking enables you to connect colleagues who don’t know each other.

Here’s a short course for effective and constructive networking:

  1. Get involved in the organization by knowing the leaders, volunteering, and going to all the meetings.
  2. Be prepared. Have business cards and pen handy. Keep your cards in one pocket and those you receive in another.
  3. Practice your 20-second compelling personal commercial that briefly tells people who you are and what you do.
  4. Have a goal. How many new people do you intend to meet and learn about? What’s realistic for that specific event?
  5. Arrive early. Position yourself near the door to meet and greet.
  6. Wear your name tag on the right. It makes it easier to see both the person and name badge.
  7. Have a good, strong handshake. It tells a lot.
  8. Don’t spend time talking to those you already know. If a longer conversation is needed, schedule a follow-up call.
  9. Travel solo even if you arrive with a friend.
  10. Walk the crowd, work the room. Look at people’s faces and make eye contact.
  11. Be approachable. Have a smile on your face. Make sure your posture and stride exude a positive attitude.
  12. Remember names. Say the person’s name when introduced.
  13. Be curious about the other person. Ask questions. Those that are interested are interesting.
  14. Jot down relevant information on the back of their business cards (or yours if they forgot theirs). Transfer that information to your electronic format later.
  15. If you have to eat, eat early so you can concentrate on the crowd. Avoid alcohol. You are there to work!
  16. Stay late. Some of the best connections are made after the crowd thins.
  17. Follow up with those you meet with an e-mail or personalized LinkedIn request to stand out and to provide your contact information electronically.

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She is the author of Selling from the Inside, Great Service Sells, and Kick Your “But.” Visit www.sellingstrategies.com to learn how Emily’s programs and materials can benefit your organization.

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802
Mobile: 704-516-5114
www.sellingstrategies.com

Coverage of the Month- Personal Lines

Following are samples of Coverage of the Month for Personal Lines CSRs to offer all clients he or she speaks with during that month. Even if the basic coverage form is not written by the agency (Homeowners or Auto), be sure the coverage of the month is mentioned using the “buy the way” technique, which will open the conversation about writing that line of business.

  • January- Scheduled Items Floaters
  • February- Flood and Earthquake
  • March- Home-Based Business
  • April- Umbrella
  • May- Recreational Vehicles
  • June- Sewer and Water Backup
  • July- Vacation homes, vacant land, rental properties
  • August- Computers
  • September- Automobile; added or customized equipment
  • October- Security devices; credits available
  • November- Domestic workers
  • December- Umbrella

 

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355 www.sellingstrategies.com

Coverage of the Month- Commercial Lines

Following are samples of Coverage of the Month for Commercial Lines CSRs to offer all clients he or she speaks with during that month. Even if a basic coverage form is not written by the agency (WC, Package, Auto), be sure the coverage of the month is mentioned using the “buy the way” technique, which will open the conversation about writing that line of business.

  • January- Business interruption
  •  February- Flood and Earthquake
  •  March- Boilers and other machinery
  •  April- Umbrella
  •  May- Leased equipment
  •  June- Employment Practices Liability
  •  July- Intangible property such as trademarks
  •  August- Computers and other high-tech equipment
  •  September- Improvements to the premises
  •  October- Inventory increases
  •  November- Employee Benefits
  •  December- D&O, E&O, professional liability

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355 www.sellingstrategies.com

Coverage of the Month – Life and Health

Life and Health

Following are samples of Coverage of the Month for Life and Health CSRs to offer all clients he or she speaks with during that month.

  • Long Term Care
  • Medicare supplement
  • DI-Long term & Short term
  • Dental
  • Business Overhead
  • Voluntary Benefits – cancer, travel, accident
  • Short-Term Health
  • Key Man Life Insurance
  • Buy-Sell Life Inusurance
  • Child Riders

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Mobile: 704-516-5114 www.sellingstrategies.com

Zero Budget and Low Budget Marketing Ideas

By Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

A collection of results-producing ideas in no particular order. Hope you find a new nugget you can use!

  1. Be visible on social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube
  2. Post valuable, relevant, and fun information frequently
  3. Invest in quality staff pictures for your website and social media use
  4. Publish articles in local paper, trade and community business publications
  5. Send articles to your clients
  6. Be interviewed by broadcast media
  7. Speak to groups – Rotary, Chamber, etc.
  8. Be a Chamber Ambassador
  9. Volunteer and get involved in local business and trade associations
  10. Participate in trade shows
  11. Raffle a gift at a community event or trade show
  12. Attend trade shows
  13. Place brochures at Chamber office
  14. Place brochures in realtor relocation packages
  15. Join a leads group or networking club
  16. Make a donation to a charity in the name of a client
  17. Use clients in your advertising
  18. Provide business cards to all associates to promote confidence and pride
  19. Use press releases as often a possible
  20. Award a client with; Client of the Year’ designation – publicize it
  21. Use voice mail message to publicize new products; message on hold
  22. Call/visit prospects and clients when “in the neighborhood”
  23. Use note cards and thank you cards religiously
  24. Use new product stuffers in all your mailings
  25. Have dynamite business cards for all staff and use them
  26. Send birthday cards
  27. Send articles from business or trade magazines that are of interest to your customers
  28. Send claim follow up report cards 30 days after claim reported
  29. Use client satisfaction surveys
  30. Use lost account surveys
  31. Send newsletters – either purchased or created within the office
  32. Stay abreast of life changes; marriage, divorce, children, retirement, inheritance, college children; to review and recommend.
  33. Send “How are you getting along without us?” letters to business that you want to regain
  34. Contact lost business to survey why account moved and what can be done to regain their business
  35. Use Personal Lines and Commercial Lines exposure update questionnaires
  36. Offer a free gift (road atlas or advertising specialty item) to those who come in or reply to questionnaires
  37. Market within your office – name plates, offer food and beverage, have a central meeting area for walk-ins
  38. Create a logo or tag line that is image building
  39. Use testimonials – letters, videos
  40. Partner with a video/CD firm, appraisers to share referrals
  41. Send small gifts to referring customers and circle of influence people
  42. Create a “magnet program” to obtain new personal lines leads and serve existing customers
  43. Use e-mail and website wisely to market new products
  44. Create a client advisory boards for input from clients
  45. Have lunch once a week with a circle of influence person (banker, realtor, accountant, attorney, mortgage broker)
  46. Implement a “coverage of the month” program
  47. Create an insurance information relocation brochure for realtors and new community residents
  48. Have a “drive by sighting” contest for employees to generate leads
  49. Follow up with non-agency claimants after claim settlement
  50. Market to those you send certificate of insurance to for your insureds
  51. Offer a free lunch fishbowl drawing weekly at local restaurant
  52. Include “quick quote fax back fact sheets” in with direct mail
  53. Always include postage-paid envelopes with surveys and questionnaires
  54. Once a new producer account is written, have the CSR call to introduce herself, and follow up with note card with business card enclosed
  55. Always use e-mail signatures
  56. Be on a Board of Directors
  57. Teach a class
  58. Volunteer for Junior Achievement
  59. Write letters to the editors; be a guest columnist in the local paper
  60. Sponsor an “Athlete of the Month” or “Student of the Month” in your community
  61. Meet with newly-licensed drivers and their parents to establish a Youthful Operator Driving Agreement.
  62. Offer Commercial clients complimentary Personal Lines reviews for their employees during a lunch and learn
  63. Offer high school Driver’s Education programs a presentation on insurance facts and responsibilities and review the Youthful Operator Family Driving agreement

Updated 2016

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC
Selling Strategies, Inc.
PO Box 200
Terrell, NC 28682

888-309-8802 office

704-516-5114 mobile

How to Analyze Your Insurance Markets

How do you know the insurance carriers you represent are the right ones for your agency? Conducting an annual review of your markets will help determine if your partnership is mutually beneficial. The review process should involve all the individuals who have a relationship with your markets; owners and managers, producers, CSRs, account managers, marketing, and claim staff.

Use a spreadsheet format to organize the variables you are reviewing. Down the left-hand column, list your companies. Across the top, list the variables listed below. Complete the chart and you will have significant information about your companies with which to make important management decisions.

Company analysis factors

  • Lines of business they write; Personal, Commercial, Small Commercial, Life, Group Health, etc.
  • Do they offer Personal Lines or Commercial Lines Service Centers?
  • Billing terms or problem issues – finance charges, etc.
  • A. M. Best Rating
  • Relationship with automation vendor such as Applied, Vertafore, Hawksoft, EZLynx
  • Office location; local or regional – claims, underwriting, marketing
  • Local underwriting authority
  • Agency underwriting authority
  • Claim handling – based on your experience and your client’s experience
  • Company adjusters or independent adjusters
  • Organizational and management changes
  • Agency development support offered – education, co-op advertising, producer training
  • Profit sharing program; threshold, lines of business, bonus incentives
  • Commissions paid by line of business
  • Technology capabilities
  • Stability of underwriting market – in and out of classes or stable?
  • Professionalism and knowledge of staff
  • Elite or VIP agent status program offered; criteria to attain?

 

Updated 2016

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Mobile 704-516-5114

Tips to Improve Your E-Mail Communications

1. Know when to use e-mail. Don’t use it to deliver bad news, reprimand, or persuade. Instead, pick up the phone or meet face-to-face.

2. Follow the Rule of Three when e-mailing. Send, reply, send, pick up the phone if another e-mail is needed.

3. Keep it short. Don’t expect people to read more than what’s necessary.

4. Don’t type in upper-case letters. It’s considered shouting and is very hard to read.

5. Don’t promote “spam.” It fills up recipients’ mailboxes and is unprofessional.

6. Create a meaningful subject line. Make sure those who receive too much e-mail read your message.

7. Tell the recipient what you want. Do you need a reply? By what date? What action do you want them to take? Is it a FYI only? Be clear in your message.

8. Proofread, proofread, proofread! This communication tool represents your image. Check spelling, grammar, and use of words.

9. Use “CC” sparingly. This can be a real pain for users who don’t really need to see your communication.

10. Use a signature at the end of all e-mails. The reader may want to get back in touch with you via phone, snail mail, or fax. Your message may be forwarded to another party who doesn’t have your contact information. Your signature should contain all the information your letterhead does.

11. Use attachments effectively. Some recipients may be unable to open your attachment. Attach only pertinent information. Avoid attachments that are too long and clog up the recipient’s computer.

12. Use the “out-of-office” auto response feature to alert those that send you messages that you are out of the office and when you’ll return. If you are checking voice mail while out, let the sender know you can be reached that way.

13. To avoid e-mail tennis, finish a message with “no reply needed,” or NRN.

14. As a company, establish purging criteria. An overloaded e-mail box slows down the whole system and makes retrieving mail cumbersome.

15. Change the subject line when you reply. Let the recipient know the new subject or if the content contains the reply or a question.

16. Don’t send an e-mail when you’re emotional about the topic.

17. Maintain standard business-writing protocol. Don’t use texting shorthand or cute artwork.

18. Only use the return receipt feature when absolutely necessary.

19. Be careful when forwarding e-mails. Content may be personal or confidential.

20. Check your junk mail folder regularly for important messages that should be in your inbox.


 

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355 www.sellingstrategies.com